Christened Harry Rodger Webb, Cliff Richard was born on 14 October 1940 in Lucknow, British India. Having sold more than 260 million records globally, he is predominantly known in a singing capacity, although he’s also had a stint at acting and does an enormous amount of work for charity.
Cliff Richard first took an interest in music when he was a teenager and he formed a vocal group called the Quintones in 1957. It wasn’t until 1958 that Cliff had his first taste of musical success in his rock band, The Drifters. Move It was considered the first genuine British rock-and-roll record, for which he was likened to Elvis Presley. Cliff’s first number one hit was Living Doll in 1959, which he performed with The Shadows – they changed their name from The Drifters to avoid confusion with the US band of the same name.
As his career began to take off, Cliff’s music diverged – it had less of a rock-and-roll edge to it. His interest in Christianity grew and he became renowned for hits that had a religious tone, such as Mistletoe and Wine, Saviour’s Day and Millennium Prayer – two of which were number one hits at Christmas.
Spanning 60 years, Cliff’s music career has seen him notch up 14 number one hits. He has released nearly 100 Top 20 singles and 43 solo albums, making him one of the most enduring singers in British history. He has collaborated with many famous artists including Elton John, Cilla Black and Van Morrison and he has also featured in a number of movies including The Young Ones, Wonderful Life and Summer Holiday.
Cliff reunited with The Shadows in 2008 at the Royal Variety Performance – a UK tour followed. He also performed at the Royal Albert Hall in 2010 to celebrate his 70th birthday. Never one to rest on his laurels, Cliff released the album Just Fabulous… Rock ‘n’ Roll in 2016, which shot to number 4 in the British charts.
Cliff has received more than 80 awards in recognition of his music. He was given an OBE in 1980, and was the first rock star to be knighted, gaining the title of Sir in 1995. With total sales of over 1 million singles in the UK, he is the third top-selling artist in UK singles chart history, behind only The Beatles and Elvis Presley.
Cliff has done a lot of work for charity, and gives 10% of his income to good causes.
Love of tennis
With a real passion for the sport, Cliff is a notable fixture in the spectator box at Wimbledon every year. His presence drew particular attention in 1996, when he sang a medley of songs to the crowds during bad weather, which halted play on Centre Court.
Although Cliff has kept his personal life very private, in the 1980s he was romantically linked to tennis player, Sue Barker – he even contemplated marriage!
In 1991, the Cliff Richard Tennis Foundation was established to encourage children to take up the sport. The Foundation is now part of the Lawn Tennis Association.